Daniel Jones has another strong preseason outing against Bengals after a week in the spotlight
CINCINNATI — Baker Mayfield owes Daniel Jones a congratulatory text message.
Jones battled past this week’s noise to continue his strong preseason Thursday night. The Browns quarterback’s criticism of Jones thrust the Giants’ No. 6 overall pick into the national spotlight. Mayfield eventually reached out via text message to clear the air.
But Jones completed 9-of-11 passes for 141 yards in three-plus drives against the Bengals and led the offense to a touchdown for a third straight game. He played three drives behind the first-string offensive line and a 24-second possession late in the first half with the second string.
On the second-quarter scoring drive, Jones hit wideout Brittan Golden deep down the middle of the field for 35 yards. Cincy edge rusher Carl Lawson beat left tackle Nate Solder and crushed Jones in the back to force a fumble, nearly snuffing out the drive.
Golden recovered, though, and Jones persevered to hit fellow rookie Darius Slayton for 27 yards down to the 1-yard line on a jump ball down the left sideline. It was Slayton’s preseason debut and first catch as a Giant.
Running back Rod Smith then punched in a 1-yard TD, leaving Jones’ preseason numbers looking impressive entering next week’s finale at New England: 25-of-30 passing (83.33%), 369 yards, two TDs, three fumbles, two lost, and 24 NYG offensive points scored in 10 drives (not counting Thursday’s end-of-half possession).
Jones, meanwhile, also showed some fire at the end of the first half. He completed a 24-yard pass to Golden, rushed the offense upfield to spike the ball for a Hail Mary try, and did so with one second left.
When the clock operator ran it to zero anyway, Jones slapped the ball, wanting one last chance to put more points on the board.
Eli Manning, meanwhile, played only one drive, completed 4-of-8 passes for 41 yards, and led the offense downfield on a drive that stalled for a 41-yard Aldrick Rosas field goal.
The Giants were sloppy in the first half, though, committing seven penalties, including three by left guard Will Hernandez (face mask, false start, hold).
However, strong safety Jabrill Peppers showed his boom or bust potential: He wrapped up running back Giovani Bernard after a catch in man-to-man coverage, then was beaten by tight end C.J. Uzomah for a 26-yard touchdown pass later in the first quarter.
And linebacker Tae Davis struggled in pass coverage, reinforcing the Giants’ concerns at that critical position.
Rod Smith, the veteran running back who’s consistently been the first in after Wayne Gallman, hurt his groin and did not return after his TD run.
Evan Engram made his preseason debut after sitting out the first two games and had one catch for nine yards plus plenty of opportunities to practice his blocking in the run game.
Saquon Barkley (healthy), Sterling Shepard (thumb), Golden Tate (concussion), Sam Beal (hamstring), DeAndre Baker (knee), Antonio Hamilton (groin), Alec Ogletree (calf), Chad Wheeler (back), George Asafo-Adjei (concussion) all did not play.